Ex-USC swimmer involved in riot pleads guilty

Former USC swimmer and five-time Olympic medalist Klete Keller pleaded guilty to a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding Wednesday for taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot. 

Keller agreed to a plea bargain after facing seven federal charges, including knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building, participating in disorderly conduct in the Capitol building and impeding law enforcement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The former Trojan swimmer, who won three NCAA titles at USC from 2001-2002 and graduated in 2009 with degrees in public policy and real estate development, was indicted Jan. 6 after wearing his Olympic jacket to the riot and was captured in videos clashing with policemen inside the Capitol Rotunda. 

According to the New York Times, Keller said in his plea deal he was in the Capitol for approximately an hour, screaming curses at Democratic leaders, taking pictures and videos and “jerking his elbows” at law enforcement. Afterward, the New York Times reported Keller got rid of the Olympic jacket he wore at the riot. 

Keller was charged Jan. 13 and turned himself in to law enforcement in Denver the day after, according to the Los Angeles Times. He deleted his social media accounts, which were supposedly full of pro-Trump messaging surrounding the capitol invasion. 

The felony he was charged with, obstruction of an official court proceeding, usually carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. However federal sentencing guidelines dictate that, for an offense charged at this level, the sentence will likely range from 21 to 27 months; the judge is not bound by that range, though.  

The Daily Trojan reached out to USC for a statement, but the University declined to comment.

Keller won bronze and silver medals in the 2000 Olympics, gold and bronze in the 2004 Olympics and gold in the 2008 Olympics. 

In 2004, Keller swam the final lap of a gold medal-winning relay effort with U.S. stars Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

Back in January, USA Swimming released a statement on the matter.

“It is very simple and very clear. Mr. Keller’s actions in no way represent the values or mission of USA Swimming. And while once a swimmer at the highest levels of our sport — representing the country and democracy he so willfully attacked — Mr. Keller has not been a member of this organization since 2008,” the statement said.

In addition to the NCAA titles with USC, Keller won multiple Pac-12 conference titles, including back-to-back victories in the 200-yard freestyle in 2001 and 2002.

Keller struggled after leaving swimming in 2008, getting divorced, experiencing a child custody battle and briefly dealing with homelessness, according to the Washington Post. Friends knew of his conservative beliefs, love of guns and support of Trump, The Post reported, but were still surprised by his role in the riots. 

Keller’s lawyer Edward B. MacMahon Jr. did not respond to a voicemail left by the Daily Trojan in time for publication.